Arlington incorporates on May 20, 1903.

  • By Janet Oakley
  • Posted 12/10/2010
  • Essay 9511

On May 5, 1903, under orders from the Snohomish Board of County Commissioners, the “legal voters” of the settlement of Arlington vote for its incorporation. Fifteen days later, the election is certified, and Arlington becomes a municipal corporation of the fourth class.

A Fork on a River

The settlement of Arlington began at the forks of the Stillaguamish River. The place was originally used as an overnight camping area in Stillaguamish tribal territory known as Skabalko. In 1851, a miner with Indian guides came to explore the area.

But dense forests delayed further settling until the spring of 1887, when Nels K. Tvete and Nils C. Johnson opened a store. A few months later, a hotel went up. For a while, the area boasted two towns: Haller City, platted in April 24, 1890, and Arlington, platted a month earlier. Although it was just a half-mile away, Arlington stood on higher ground. Its preferred location led to the placement of a railroad depot there in July 1890, thus ensuring the demise of Haller City. After all, a town needed a railroad depot -- and a post office. Haller City lost its post office in 1894.

Becoming a City

The move to incorporate began in the late 1890s. By then, the two towns were often called the Twin Cities, but all the businesses had migrated up to Arlington. It had a public school, a sawmill, a shingle mill, a weekly newspaper, a short sidewalk, and a population of 400.

On May 5, 1903, the citizens of Arlington voted for incorporation. Of the 173 votes cast, 134 were in favor and 27 against. The newly incorporated city encompassed the platted blocks of Haller City and all the additions to Arlington.

The voters also elected officers to lead the city. For mayor, J. M. Smith received 137 votes. For city council, D. S. Baker got 137 votes; W. R. Fowler, 136 votes; C.A. Hudson, 134 votes; Neil Brown, 137 votes; J. B. Riley, 136 votes; and J. H. Persun, one vote. Adolph Behrens was elected treasurer and C.H. Tracy, Clerk. 

Today Arlington is a small city of 16,810 residents with a growing population.

Sources: Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, “Arlington -- Thumbnail History” (by Janet Oakley) (accessed August 2, 2010); "Proceedings in the election to incorporate the Town of Arlington," City incorporation papers, May 20, 1903, Secretary of Washington State, Washington State Archives.

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